Corini Must Change Chievo’s Style


Roma’s Adem Ljajic scores against Chievo in the Flying Donkey’s 3-0 loss to the Giallorossi.

Eugenio Corini needs to change Chievo’s tactics and style of play if his team want to stay away from the Serie A relegation battle this season.

Luigi Delneri’s cavalier style is long gone and the Flying Donkeys have accepted their place as underdogs by playing in a defensive manner.

During the summer, Chievo made some good signings and it should be punching above its weight. There is nothing wrong with having a well-organised defence but the Flying Donkeys need to be more ambitious and daring.

Corini’s approach can improve and so can his choice of personnel. I have came up with two possible formations that can be used and I believe that they can bring the best out of the players currently on Chievo’s roster.


A Chievo line-up in the 3-5-2 formation.

Corini has used the 3-5-2 in most games but his approach has been too conservative. With the right players, this formation should work against most Serie A teams because there aren’t many teams in Italy that play with wingers.

The defenders here are slow but they have experience and behind them is an emerging star in Francesco Bardi. This midfield possesses more creativity than what Corini has been using and I have not selected two pure centre-forwards in my team like Corini regularly does.

I have gone for Nicolas Frey, Dario Dainelli and Bostjan Cesar in defence but Alessandro Gamberini could be worth considering because he has played with Dainelli at Fiorentina. Ervin Zukanovic struggled to defend against Adem Ljajic in Chievo’s 3-0 loss to Roma so he does not feature here.

My central midfield consists of Perparim Hetemaj, Issac Cofie and Nicola Bellomo. Hetemaj operates as a box-to-box midfielder, Cofie would operate here as a deep-lying playmaker and Bellomo would play as a more advanced attacking midfielder.

Bellomo had a few good games at Torino but he disappeared once he gave away a penalty against Napoli last season. Corini needs to give him chances to play and he can take free-kicks.

Ezequiel Schelotto and Cristiano Biraghi have been selected in the wing-back roles. Biraghi has not been particularly impressive so far but like most Italian youngsters he needs to play. Dropping players after making a mistake or two and then letting them rot on the bench is wrong.

Schelotto’s role differs to Biraghi’s because I would not want him to only send crosses into the box. He is tall and fast so he could make late runs into the box and score goals like Christian Maggio did in his prime at Sampdoria and Napoli.

Riccardo Meggiorini is in my team ahead of Maxi Lopez because of his work ethic and his ability to drift to the wings. He should be able to drag the opposition centre-backs away and leave gaps in the middle of the park.

Paloschi’s selection is a no-brainer. He is the present and the future of Chievo’s attack and he is far more effective than Lopez.


A potential Chievo line-up in the 4-3-3 formation. Schelotto’s position has changed slightly but the key is Lazarevic on the left-wing.

The 4-3-3 formation is ideal whenever Chievo needs to attack down the wings and try and break down defensive walls. Dejan Lazarevic is the key to this formation. Whenever he plays, Lazarevic creates some magic on the left-wing and Corini must start him more regularly.

If Bellomo is too attack-minded in midfield, then Ivan Radovanovic can be used to provide more steel in the middle of the park. Corini plays him regularly but I didn’t include him in my 3-5-2 because I wanted more creativity in midfield.

Although most teams play with inverted winger these days, I have left Schelotto on the right flank because he can score from any over-hit crosses from the left-wing or run into the centre in case Paloschi is not right in the middle.

AC Milan Should Have Got Borini Instead of Torres

Fabio Borini doing his trademark celebration with Liverpool.

AC Milan should have acquired Liverpool striker Fabio Borini instead of Fernando Torres.

Torres is 30-years-old now and he has developed a reputation for wasting easy scoring opportunities at Chelsea. He was an excellent striker in his prime and he has been a winner but there is no guarantee that Torres will be reliable in front of goal for the Rossoneri.

I will still look forward to watching Torres in Serie A because of the profile he brings and it would be good if he can become a prolific goalscorer in Serie A instead of being a player who misses from in front of goal.

Despite the media attention Torres would bring, I still would have preferred AC Milan to have made a move for Borini. He refused to move to Sunderland on a permanent basis because he wanted to earn his place at Liverpool or return to Italy.

Borini scored seven goals in 32 EPL appearances last season for The Black Cats and he scored three goals in five League Cup matches, including one in the final defeat against Manchester City.

His compatriot Mario Balotelli has moved from AC Milan to Liverpool and perhaps Borini should have been included in that deal instead of the Reds just paying the Rossoneri €20 million.

At 23 years old, he is still a young player and he can keep on improving. New Rossoneri coach Filippo Inzaghi has been looking for a right-winger and a centre-forward while the transfer window has been open and Borini can play in both roles. He prefers to play as a centre-forward but he can play on the right side of an attacking trident.

There are many foreign players in the Serie A and there have been cries from the Italian media for more Italian youngsters to play. Borini has bright future ahead of him and his wages would have been lower than Torres’.

Torres was a star and Borini could be a star. AC Milan should stop looking for the quick fix and think ahead.

What if the Serie A started today? – Part Two

Can Domenico Berardi perform more magic for Sassuolo this season?

Yesterday I posted my Top 10 Serie A teams if the league had already started and today’s post will feature the teams that I predict will finish in the bottom assuming that the teams stay as they are.

Some teams have improved their rosters and there are others that really need to improve if they are going to do well this season.

Aside from Cagliari, Sampdoria and perhaps Chievo, most of the teams in the Top 10 should actually finish in that position.

The teams feature in today’s post could finish in the Top 10 but it won’t be easy. I am also predicting the mid-table and the relegation battles to be very tight this year.

Here are my predictions of the bottom as of today. There will be a 2014-15 Serie A preview just before the season starts and hopefully most teams have strengthened their rosters.

11. Lazio

Claudio Lotito remains as president despite calls from Lazio’s ultras for him to resign but the biancocelesti do have a new coach as well as some new additions.

Lazio has appointed Stefano Pioli as the coach and also joining him are defenders Dusan Basta and Stefan De Vrij, midfielder Marco Parolo and striker Filip Djordjevic. Right-winger Antonio Candreva has also been bought outright from Udinese. The biancocelesti do have a good youth system and Greek-Australian Chris Ikonomidis could be another player to come through the ranks depending on his pre-season form.

Pioli has had some credible campaigns at Chievo and Bologna but coaching Lazio will be different. He will be working with a stronger squad but he must prove that he is good enough for a club that should aim for the Europa League.

12. Sassuolo

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side survived relegation last season but with more experience under their belt and if Domenico Berardi can score on a more consistent basis, Sassuolo has the potential to become a mid-table side.

The neroverdi have an up-and-coming attacking trident consisting of Berardi, Simone Zaza and Nicola Sansone and they have bought full-backs Sime Vrsaljko and Federico Peluso from Genoa and Juventus respectively.

Another centre-back and a playmaker – possibly Atalanta’s Luca Cigarini – could come handy but if their midfield stays fit and their attackers can keep progressing, the neroverdi could be more than just a team battling relegation.

13. Parma

The crociati could have another fine campaign or they could be less impressive than they were last season. Keep in mind that most of Parma’s players punched above their weight in 2013/14.

These players who overachieved include the likes of Alessandro Lucarelli, Gabriel Paletta and Antonio Mirante and players such as Raffaele Palladino and Ezequiel Schelotto were able to play roles whenever they came off the bench. Midfielders Parolo and Walter Gargano have departed and the loss of the former could hurt Parma.

If Parma can help Antonio Cassano keep his cool again and also recruit a prolific centre-forward, another Top 10 finish is possible but other rosters look stronger or they have better coaches than Roberto Donadoni.

14. Genoa

The grifoni are choosing quantity over quality once again. They usually procure lots of players during the European summer but they usually do not improve the roster greatly.

Gian Piero Gasperini has a pre-season to work with this squad after returning to Genoa last season but he needs to make new signings like Armando Izzo, Leandro Greco and Diego Perotti fit into his tactics. Alessandro Matri could be decent replacement for Alberto Gilardino because he won’t have the same expectations that he would have had an Juve and AC Milan.

Genoa will probably struggle again unless Gasperini can make a competitive team out of the players at his disposal.

15. Atalanta

No major signings have arrived at Atalanta but there have not been any major departures either for Stefano Colantuono’s side.

The Orobici have youngsters Davide Zappacosta and Marco D’Alessandro on their books and they could emerge like Daniele Baselli has done but keeping left-winger Giacomo Bonaventura is vital if they want to climb into the top half of the table. Gaining full ownership of Cigarini is excellent news for Atalanta too.

Atalanta should survive relegation but keeping key players and buying more players of exceptional quality are necessary if they want to be more than a mid-table team.

16. Palermo

The rosanero are back in the Serie A after a season in Serie B and despite winning the cadetti title with ease, I am not expecting too much from the Sicilian side for now.

Palermo’s midfield and attack looks good but its defence is not that outstanding for Serie A. Giuseppe Iachini has good central midfielders like Enzo Maresca, Edgar Barreto and Luca Rigoni and he also has Swedish prodigy Robin Quaison at his disposal.

The forward line has youngsters Andrea Belotti and Paulo Dybala in it as well as Uruguayan international Abel Hernandez. Iachini has asked for Sampdoria striker Eder, a player he coached at Brescia and Samp.

To climb up the table, better defenders would help but a useful purchase for the attack would not be a bad thing.


17. Udinese

Andrea Stramaccioni has replaced Francesco Guidolin as coach and he can count on Antonio Di Natale firing in the goals for at least another season.

Guidolin was excellent when he was working with what he had at his disposal but coaching Udinese will test Stramaccioni after struggling at Inter. ‘Strama’ has some youngsters to work with but none standout more than Simone Scuffet, who made his Serie A debut last season at age 17.

Don’t expect the Friulani to qualify for Europe and expect more struggles. If Di Natale can keep scoring for one more season and Scuffet performs more heroics in goal, Serie A survival is likely.


 18. Hellas Verona

Andrea Mandolini’s side is a team that I expect to drop off. The gialloblu probably won’t get relegated but the other rosters look stronger so far.

Aside from recruiting Greek internationals Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Panagiotis Tachtsidis, Verona’s recruiting has not been that impressive. Brazilian forward Nene has arrived from Cagliari and Uruguayan defender Guillermo Rodriguez has arrived from Torino. Verona has sold Juan Iturbe to Roma and Romulo will be heading to Juventus.

Luca Toni had a career revival last season scoring 20 goals but depending on his support cast this time and how his body feels, he might not reach those figures this time. To do well again, Verona should consider looking for a quality centre-back and a good winger.


19. Cesena

The cavallucci marini have been recruiting many defenders and the overall roster has the right mix of youth and experience.

Pierpaolo Bisoli’s side has plenty of central midfielders and lacks a quality attacking midfielder. This could be Cesena’s downfall as well as the lack of a quality striker. AC Milan striker M’Baye Niang has been linked with Cesena and moving to the Emilia-Romagna could help him gain valuable match experience.

The forward line has some youngsters on the wings like Gregoire Defrel and Luca Garritano but Bisoli needs Guido Marilungo to finally realise his potential after struggling with knee injuries.


20. Empoli

At the moment there is a lack of quality throughout the pitch in this Empoli roster but it does contain two veterans in Francesco Tavano and Massimo Maccarone leading the attack.

Tavano and Maccarone were excellent in Serie B but will they have the stamina and skill to compete with the defences of Serie A? Empoli also has a lot of youth in other parts of the team.

If Empoli is to stand a chance of survival, defenders and midfielders with decent Serie A experience are required. Out of the current bunch, youngsters Daniele Rugani and Simone Verdi need to shine in defence and midfield respectively after making an impact in Serie B.

What if the Serie A started today? – Part One

Could Rudi Garcia’s Roma break the hegemony of Juventus in the Italian Serie A?

There is less than a month to go until the next Serie A season commences.

Everyday TuttoMercatoWeb, like the other major Italian media outlets, has been doing predictions of the starting 11s for all 20 teams for the 2014/15 Serie A season. If the league started on August 1, this is what the teams would look like.

So if the league did start today, where would the teams finish? Here are my predictions for the season based on the current outlook of the Serie A squads. Today’s post will feature the Top 10 and tomorrow’s post will include my predictions on the bottom half.


Serie A Top 10 for 2014-15


1.       Roma

Roma had an impressive campaign under Rudi Garcia. It only finished second last season because Juventus was very strong and players like Kevin Strootman, Francesco Totti and Mattia Destro weren’t always fit.

The giallorossi have been busy early in the transfer window signing Ashley Cole, Seydou Keita and Juan Iturbe as well as getting Davide Astori on loan. Destro could leave for German club Wolfsburg if it puts in a large bid for the 23-year-old.

Garcia’s team has enough depth in all positions and sporting director Walter Sabatini has made some fine signings. This is a great chance for the giallorossi to win their fourth Serie A title.


2.       Napoli 

The Napolitani have not been very active during the summer transfer window. Michu has arrived on loan from Swansea City but they have struggled to get German midfielder Christoph Kramer from Bayer Leverkusen.

Napoli needs a goalkeeper to replace Pepe Reina but it seems that a defensive midfielder is more of a priority. Valon Behrami is set to go to Hamburg but the options to replace him are Kramer, Lucas Leiva from Liverpool and Belgium’s Marouane Fellaini.

Coach Rafa Benitez has the players to fit into his 4-2-3-1 formation but he could try different formations and he has the players to do so. If they the vital additions and they fit into the team quickly, they can push Roma for the title.


3.       Juventus 

Massimiliano Allegri has replaced Antonio Conte as Juve coach and he will need to make a positive impact quickly.

Allegri was not a popular choice to replace Conte. The former Milan coach made some obscure choices during his time with the rossoneri whereas Conte lead Juve to three scudetti and he encouraged his players to fight as well as play a pressing game.

Mirko Vucinic has left and there have been rumours of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba leaving the club. Juve will need to adapt to Allegri’s 4-3-1-2 tactics but if Vidal and Pogba left, the bianconeri will have a huge decline this season.


4.       Fiorentina

Not having a full-strength attack was the Viola’s downfall last season and the defence was very leaky as well.

Holding onto Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado will be vital for Fiorentina, and if he does leave, he would need to be replaced properly. Even so, Montella might give youth a chance depending on the formation. Italo-Australian youngster Joshua Brillante could be the right wing-back in the 3-5-2 or Federico Bernardeschi could play as a right-winger in the 4-3-3.

Vincenzo Montella’s team play a possession-based game, and if Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez stay fit, then Fiorentina should qualify for Europe again with very little issues.


5.       Inter

Walter Mazzarri’s team is starting to have a blend of youth and experience in it. There is still a lack of genuine world-class players in the team and the youngsters need to keep progressing.

Yann M’Vila and Dodo have arrived at Inter but current youngsters Mauro Icardi and Mateo Kovacic will need to make more of an impact. Nemanja Vidic brings quality and experience to the defence.

Inter does lack a star in his prime. Pablo Osvaldo has joined from Southampton but the Nerazzurri need players like Chilean defender/midfielder Gary Medel and Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez if they want to pose a bigger threat than they did last season.


6.       AC Milan 

The rossoneri should not be expected to be a title contender like the AC Milan teams of old. New coach Filippo Inzaghi must be allowed to work without a large budget give kids a chance.

Inzaghi is expected to give more playing time to players who did not play regularly last season like Riccardo Saponara and Andrea Poli and he can also count on having a fit Stephan El Shaarawy in attack. Alex and Jeremy Menez arrived on free transfers and buying them probably won’t bring much joy.

Keep an eye on youngsters Bryan Cristante and Hachim Mastour if they get matchtime this season. If they do well, it gives Milan more reason to play kids.

There has been speculation as to whether Mario Balotelli stays or goes but regardless of what happens to the enigmatic striker, Milan will likely have a tough season ahead of them. It would be better to have short-term pain for long-term game, especially if more youth team players have to play.


7.       Cagliari

Zdenek Zeman is the new coach and Tommaso Giulini is the new president so expect a different Cagliari this season.

Astori has left for Roma but that could mean that young defender Simone Benedetti could become a star. Also keep an eye on left-back Nicola Murru. Lorenzo Crisetig is a youngster that has been added to the midfield and Samuele Longo has become a part of the attack.

The hallmarks of Zeman teams will be apparent once again, and more experienced players like Marco Sau and Victor Ibarbo could thrive under ‘Il Boemo’, not just the youngsters mentioned above.

As with all Zeman teams, the one thing that will stop this team from climbing-up the table is the defence. There will be too much focus on attack at Cagliari but that will be the reason for the Sardi improving on last season’s results.


8.       Sampdoria

Massimo Ferrero has replaced Edoardo Garrone as president and so far there has been more smoke than fire on the transfer market.

Plenty of big names have been linked to the club but Gonzalo Bergessio is the only significant signing that Samp have made so far. Colombian defender Mario Yepes and Palermo goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano could arrive soon. Viviano is expected to replace Sergio Romero, who starred at the World Cup for Argentina.

Even with the current squad, a mid-table finish is possible, especially if the Doria’s young players can keep improving. With better support though, the doriani can finish higher.


9.       Torino

Ciro Immobile has left Toro and Alessio Cerci is expected to leave next. If he is sold and not adequately replaced, Torino will struggle this season.

The Granata have brought in midfielders Marco Benassi and Antonio Nocerino as well as full-back Cristian Molinaro. Fabio Quagliarella has replaced Immobile in attack but the Cerci scenario will be vital to how Torino’s campaign will turn out.

Giampiero Ventura’s side could struggle because of its participation in the Europa League. This will really test Torino’s depth and despite recruiting some good players, juggling Serie A action and playing in Europe could be too much for Toro.


10.   Chievo 

The Flying Donkeys have been very active in the transfer window since it opened and should survive relegation with greater ease.

When Coach Eugenio Corini left after the 2012/13 season, it was because the club was not going to bring in new players. This time Chievo has not made a mistake and it has added some good Serie A-standard players to the team.

Youngsters Cristiano Biraghi and Francesco Bardi have arrived from Inter but Chievo has also brought experienced players from other Serie A clubs such as Mariano Izco, Valter Birsa, Maxi Lopez and Riccardo Meggiorini.

Obviously these guys aren’t superstars but they suit a small club like Chievo and the Flying Donkeys have had a habit of bringing the best out of unknown or average players. Corini could make this team competitive and surprise anyone who takes them too lightly.

Allegri’s Time as Juve Coach Should Not Be Like the Milan Days

Former AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is now the coach of Juventus.

Massimiliano Allegri is the new coach of Juventus after Antonio Conte resigned last week but his arrival has not pleased Bianconeri fans.

Although Juve fans are probably expecting their club to have a disastrous season with Allegri at the helm, he might be able to perform better with the Bianconeri than what he did with AC Milan.

His time with the Rossoneri started off well but after winning the scudetto in his first season with them, the club eventually started to fall apart on and off the pitch.

If Allegri is to do well at Juve, here are five reasons why his tenure in Turin could be better than in Milan.

Less Off-Field Drama

At AC Milan last season, there were disagreements between Adriano Galliani and Barbera Berlusconi and Galliani wanted to leave the club. Honorary President Silvio Berlusconi wanted Galliani to stay as well as his daughter to be involved in a director’s role with the Rossoneri.

Both Galliani and Barbera Berlusconi have been given CEO roles, with the veteran director focusing on the footballing aspects and the president’s daughter on non-footballing issues. It also worth mentioning that Berlusconi Snr has also been fighting various charges in the Italian courts in recent times and he was apparently not very fond of Allegri.

Allegri won’t have to deal with those type of issues in the background at Juve. He will able to work well with President Andrea Agnelli and General Director Giuseppe Marotta and build a good enough squad to work with.

Less Veterans to Work With

When Allegri arrived at AC Milan, there were plenty of veterans on the roster. There were players such Gennaro Gattuso, Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo were just a few of the players who were over 30 years old.

Although he won the 2010-11 Serie A title with those players, he eventually had to phase them out. Pirlo was allowed to leave at the end of that season and he has shone since his free transfer to Juve.

Allegri and Pirlo will be re-united and if they can work together, that would be positive news for Juventus. Pirlo is 35 years old and he is one of the very few veterans who could play a key role for the Bianconeri this season.

The others would be 36-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, and 33-year-old Patrice Evra, who is expected to the Bianconeri from Manchester United. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Allegri is not expected to start 33-year-old Andrea Barzagli in defence.

Less Erratic Players to Coach

Allegri coached a few players at AC Milan that would have been labelled as “bad boys” or enigmas such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli. Working with forwards like them would be a headache for most coaches.

At Juventus, the only player who could come close to them would be Carlos Tevez. Roberto Mancini froze him out of the Manchester City squad for a part of the 2011-12 season after refusing to come off the bench in a UEFA Champions League match against Bayern Munich.

Tevez has been calmer since arriving in Turin so there is a good chance that Allegri will have an easier time controlling things in the dressing room.

Cutting Down on Tactical Experiments

If there was one thing that made Allegri a coach loathed by calcio fans, it was his tinkering with players. He would persist with playing certain players in different positions even though they had regularly shown that they were uncomfortable.

With the Rossoneri, Allegri had used central midfielders Andrea Poli and Antonio Nocerino as right-backs, central midfielder Kevin Constant as a left-back and left-back/left-winger Urby Emanuelson as an attacking midfielder.

He did have two successes though, converting Kevin-Prince Boateng from a central midfielder/left midfielder into an attacking midfielder and he turned Nocerino from a defensive midfielder to a box-to-box midfielder.

At Juve he needs to allow his players to thrive in roles that suit them best but there are predictions in La Gazzetta dello Sport that box-to-box midfielder Claudio Marchisio could be used as an attacking midfielder, role that he has failed in for both club and country in the past.

If Allegri could leave Marchisio in central midfield and not use him as an attacking midfielder or a wide player on the left, that would be great.

Kwadwo Asamoah has played as a left wing-back in the 3-5-2 formation at Juve but has struggled as a left-back in a back four. If Allegri wants to use him in the 4-3-1-2 formation, Asamoah must not play at left-back.

Allegri needs to play everyone to their strengths. He can work on their weaknesses but he must not revolutionise their roles and try and change his players.

Bring Back the Beautiful Football from his Cagliari Days

Most people would have forgot that Allegri got the Milan job thanks to his fantastic work at Cagliari. As a player, he was coached by Giovanni Galeone at Pescara, who had a reputation for coaching ultra-offensive teams and Allegri would have taken some ideas from him on coaching.

At AC Milan, the style of play was not exciting. The team was built around Ibrahimovic and then Balotelli and they were expected to provide moments of brilliance. In midfield, Allegri had the likes of Gattuso, Massimo Ambrosini, Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong at his disposal, players who were artisans more than artists. Overall, the team was also slow in possession.

When Allegri coached Cagliari, his team was one of the best to watch in Italy. The Sardi were quick in their movement on and off the ball, they played with flair and played with confidence against all opposition.

Allegri transformed a team that looked like relegation-fodder into a team that had an outside chance of qualifying for European competitions.

Federico Marchetti was superb in goal, Davide Biondini was a workhorse central midfielder who eventually started to show more confidence on the ball, Andrea Cossu was a sublime attacking midfielder who could create a plethora of chances and Robert Acquafresca and Alessandro Matri fired in the goals.

Acquafresca has not been the same player since. He is not a guaranteed starter at Bologna but for Allegri’s Cagliari, he was a fine centre-forward and he showed more mobility too. Now he is a static player who can’t seem to find his scoring boots.

Matri struggled at AC Milan but Allegri had his reasons for signing him. Matri came of age under Allegri at Cagliari and he showed that he could play as either a centre-forward or support striker.

Allegri will have midfielders at Juve who are more talented than the ones at Cagliari and more attack-minded than the ones at Milan. If he can hold onto the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba and also find the right player for the trequartista role, this Juve team could be great to watch.

If Allegri can win and do it in style, he can really prove his doubters wrong.

My Best Italy XI for the post-Prandelli Era

My probable Italy line-up for the post-Prandelli era.

Italy was eliminated from the 2014 World Cup last week and there have been calls for many changes in Italian football.

There are still concerns that there are not enough young players coming through or being used and that is a valid point. Italian coaches still put too much emphasis on stars and experienced players.

I have created a starting 11 which includes some of Italy’s best experienced players as well as some of the young crop that is coming through. I don’t expect this to be the regular starting line-up that Italy would use at Euro 2016 but it is a starting point.

In goal I have put in Salvatore Sirigu in place of Gianluigi Buffon. “Gigi” would still be good enough for the Azzurri but he is 36 years old and if he has form slumps or injury issues, Italy fans should not worry.

Sirigu is good enough now and he showed that against England at the World Cup. He also plays for French club Paris Saint-Germain at club level, who have been performing better than Juventus in UCL recently.

In the full-back positions are Matteo Darmian and Mattia De Sciglio, who are both under 25 years old. Darmian was one of the few bright spots of Italy’s World Cup campaign and De Sciglio at full fitness is a left-back with great pace and skill. The likes of Christian Maggio, Ignazio Abate, Domenico Criscito and Federico Balzaretti can be confined to the past.

The centre-backs featured here are Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini but it would not be surprising one of them or both defenders are not guaranteed starters for Italy at Euro 2016.

Bonucci and Chiellini have their strengths but they probably have more flaws than the greats that Italy used to produce.

There are young centre-backs such as Daniele Rugani, Luca Antei, Luca Caldirola and Alessio Romagnoli just to name a few who are starting to emerge.

Caldirola is a regular at German club Werder Bremen and Antei plays for Sassuolo but Rugani, Romagnoli and many others need regular playing time at a high level.

In the midfield, there are two versatile midfielders in Antonio Candreva and Alessandro Florenzi, who can play centrally or in wide midfield positions. They can also play wide in attack.

Marco Verratti has the playmaker role in this team and I think he is ready to occupy Andrea Pirlo’s role for the Azzurri. Verratti is very calm for someone his age and he possesses better dribbling skills than what Pirlo ever did.

Pirlo is an Azzurri legend and has done great things for the national team but sentiment has to be put aside and planning for the future is a must. Verratti is the future.

So where does this leave Claudio Marchisio? Marchisio has not been impressive as he was in the 2011-12 Serie A season and at Euro 2012. Now that Marchisio is 28 years old, do not be surprised if he is cast aside for someone younger and more talented.

And how about Daniele De Rossi? He will be 32 when Euro 2016 comes around. If he is still in excellent form leading up to the tournament, then he could still be of some use to Italy. His toughness and his versatility can still serve a purpose for the next Azzurri coach, particularly if he is needed at centre-back.

In attack I have included Domenco Berardi, Ciro Immobile and Stephan El Shaarawy but there are many quality options to use in attack and there is no need to mention Mario Balotelli.

Berardi was a revelation last season with Sassuolo and he has already shown that he can score against strong opposition. Immobile was the leading goalscorer in Serie A last season with Torino and can only get better at German giants Borussia Dortmund. El Shaarawy battled with injuries last season but if he can regain full fitness, his pace and finishing ability can be a great asset for club and country.

I have left Mario Balotelli out because I do not believe that he can be Italy’s hero like some people expected him to be. Former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli tried to build the team around him and failed. Aside from the three attackers I mentioned, there are other options for the attack who deserve a chance more than Balotelli.

From Sassuolo there are forwards such as Simone Zaza and Nicola Sansone and from Sampdoria there are strikers like Manolo Gabbiadini and Stefano Okaka who are worthy of consideration.

Various strikers such Fiorentina’s Giuseppe Rossi, Cagliari’s Marco Sau, Chievo’s Alberto Paloschi, Roma’s Mattia Destro and Fabio Borini from EPL club Sunderland are also worth looking at.

How about the other forwards in Italy’s 2014 World Cup team? Antonio Cassano is past his prime but Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne need to be utilised properly. Both Insigne and Cerci have played alongside Immobile at Pescara and Torino respectively so that understanding between the players can only be a benefit to the Azzurri.

Whoever replaces Cesare Prandelli as Italy coach needs clear ideas and understand  the characteristics of his players. From what is currently available now, this would be an excellent starting 11.

Making Inzaghi the Milan Coach a Great Move

Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf as AC Milan players.


Filippo Inzaghi is now the coach of AC Milan and it is a great move by the club to appoint him.

He has worked with Milan’s Primavera side for the last two years – he won the Viareggio youth tournament this year with them – and now he will replace Clarence Seedorf as senior coach.

Some people might be wondering if sacking Seedorf was the right move, but in my opinion, he should not have became the Milan coach in the first place.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi was obsessed with the idea of Seedorf becoming a coach and got his wish early this year. It has backfired because the Rossoneri failed to qualify for Europe next season.

Seedorf’s predecessor Massimiliano Allegri struggled as AC Milan coach in 2013-14 but Berlusconi should have replaced Allegri with Inzaghi after the 4-3 loss to Sassuolo or let the former Cagliari coach finish off the season. Hiring a novice like Seedorf fresh from ending his playing career was the wrong move from day one.

If Seedorf was maintained as the coach for next season, it would have been ideal to let him buy players to fit into his system. Having said that, he was apparently not too interested in playing youngsters.

This is where “Pippo” steps in. Milan doesn’t look willing to spend money on superstars like it used too so with Inzaghi’s knowledge on the youth team players, he can promote the best players from there without the need to spend money on has-beens or cheap imports.

There have been rumours of Mario Balotelli’s possible departure from Milan and it would not be a bad thing if he left. There’s is no doubting his talent but his application has been questioned constantly.

Established youngsters like Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy can improve under Inzaghi but they could be joined by the likes of Riccardo Saponara, Bryan Cristante, Hachim Mastour and Andrea Petagna in the starting line-up.

The Rossoneri has gone through a coaching merry-go-round this year but employing Inzaghi as coach might be a great move for the club going forward.


Stramaccioni makes the right move to coach Udinese

Andrea Stramaccioni as Inter coach.

Former Inter Milan coach Andrea Stramaccioni has become the coach of Udinese and it seems like a fine move for both parties.

Stramaccioni will be replacing Francesco Guidolin, who will be taking on a supervising role for all of the clubs owned by the Pozzo family – Udinese, Granada and Watford. Guidolin resigned as coach after some stressful years of him constantly rebuilding the Zebrette squad.

The former Nerazzurri tactican was sacked after the 2012-13 Serie A season and took a sabbatical in 2013-14. His time with the senior team was unsuccessful, but he did have success with the youth team, winning the now-defunct NextGen Series in 2011-12.

When he did coach the Inter senior squad, he still had to build his team around the veterans who played a part in the Nerazzurri‘s 2009-10 treble-winning season. Unfortunately Inter ended-up playing in a conservative style to suit them and injuries took their toll on the roster.

When Inter did get wins on the board, “Strama” was praised for being a good organiser and possessing the know-how to study his opponents.

If there was one mistake that deserves to be scrutinised above anything else, it would be his phasing out of Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder. He was eventually sold to Turkish giants Galatasaray and Stramaccioni put the creative burden on young Argentine Ricky Alvarez.

Hopefully he has learned from his mistakes at Inter. The good thing is that Stramaccioni won’t have to phase out any veterans at Udinese or build his team around a majority of them.

Udinese legend Antonio Di Natale is expected to lead the attack for at least one more season but Stramaccioni can still build the team around youngsters.

The Friulani have the emerging goalkeeper Simone Scuffet on their roster and other youngsters on co-ownership deals like Bruno Fernandes and Nico Lopez. Scuffet and Fernandes played regularly under Guidolin and Stramaccioni could keep nurturing their talent.

“Strama” could also consider bringing in players he coached in the Inter Primavera such as Samuele Longo, Marco Benassi, Lorenzo Crisetig and Alfred Duncan and help them gain more senior level experience.

Stramaccioni needed to move somewhere else after a disappointing spell at Inter and Guidolin needed to take a break after his reign as Udinese coach. Both Udinese and Stramaccioni could be doing things in the right way.

Serie A 2013-14 Season Vlog Part 3

Hi everyone,

This is third and final part of my 2013-14 Serie A season review in which I spoke about the teams that survived relegation as well as the teams that went down to Serie B.

The teams that survived included Cagliari, Chievo and Sassuolo and the clubs that were unfortunate to go down were Catania, Bologna and Livorno.

Here I speak about the form of the teams on the pitch as well as some off-field concerns. I also give my views on how the teams should approach the next season and how they can either climb up the Serie A table or return to the top division.

Thanks for watching,


Serie A 2013-14 Season Vlog Part 2

Hi guys,

Here is Part 2 of my 2013-13 Serie A review and I talked about teams that missed out on qualifying for Europe as well as teams that finished comfortably in mid-table.

There were teams such as Torino, Milan, Lazio and even Hellas Verona who battled for Europa League spots and even Atalanta was in the hunt.

Sampdoria, Udinese and Genoa were teams that finished mid-table but posed little threat in the battle for European spots.

Part 3 will contain reviews of the teams that survived relegation and the ones that did go down.


P.S If you support Udinese, be warned. You will not like my cynical review of your team.